When to Deny the Rights of Neo-Nazi Militants

The tragedy in Charlottesville, VA requires real attention, deliberation, and action from all of us who believe in constitutional representative democracy; especially in the United States of America. Our political structure serves in the protection of economic and civil liberties, and we have a duty to uphold it. 

Unfortunately, our society has become self-obsessed with Spectacle, reactive to crisis, and does little about such real issues. Moreover, this is not a limited problem in the USA held by white supremacists. Instead, this is a global phenomenon of the postmodern era of financial capitalism. Ethnic-Nationalist sentiment is on the rise again and action is necessary. 
I wrote an essay in college entitled “Why Neo-Nazis Need Freedom of Speech Too” contrasting the philosophy of John Stuart Mill with the decision in Niles, Illinois, to grant a municipal parade license to a Neo-Nazi group (several decades ago). This essay was focused, primarily, on the idealistic liberalism of public discourse. I continue to believe that a rational nation must protect and encourage honest and peaceful discourse about even the most ludicrous and dangerous political, economic, and social views. 
Importantly, this freedom of speech for JS Mills especially applied to the Press and its role in criticizing the decisions of government – far from the pretense of “objectivity” that we occasionally expect of our media. 
More pragmatically today, as I describe in my book Continuous Experimentation, we as citizens do not want potential insurgencies, radical religions, civil terrorists, and other extremists festering in the isolation of their echo chambers. The more people speak about their anger, prejudice, and frustration in a calm and honest dialogue based on facts and beliefs, the less insane these conversations become. Moreover, a publicly-known group can be more easily secured and detained than a hidden, angry militia plotting in private. 
This is precisely what has worsened to a tipping point with “Neo-Nazis” in the the US, as has become extremely clear with the events in Charlottesville. The right to free speech and peaceful assembly are intentionally diametrically opposed to the right to bear arms and form a militia. The tension between these two seems to have been forgotten in the stupidity of partisan rhetoric. A fresh look is necessary. To better understand the distinction, we must look to John Locke, one of the most important influences of the United States’ founding fathers. 
For Locke, as rings loud and clear in the Bill of Rights, a Nation is formed as a Social Contract by persons with rights and freedoms intrinsic to being human. This contract is based on the Rights that any group of individuals would have in what is called the “State of Nature” – the right to life, freedom, and pursuit of property as a fruit of one’s labor. In contrast, Locke makes clear that when one person violates another’s right to life, freedom, or property, the individuals enter into the “State of War”. It is therefore one’s right in the State of War to kill someone who tries to kill you, to capture someone who tries to enslave you, and seek justice when someone steals or damages your property. The Social Contract of a nation is intended to prevent individuals from entering the State of War through collective preservation of civil liberties. In other words, the Nation preserves its people against the State of War, both internally and externally. 
Without freedom of speech, the ability to criticize and debate beliefs, and vocally remove the privilege of power from elected representatives, the government cannot be trusted to preserve our civil liberties. Moreover, the primary realm of social life and personal belief that has been a constant source of war is religion, so it is essential that the government not select or uphold one. Thus, our first amendment to the US Constitution: 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Next, when the government is no longer representing the will of the people or becomes ineffective in assuring national security, mutual defense, or domestic tranquility–especially when the representative power of the government has entered into tyranny–it is essential that the Citizens of the nation have the ability to re-enter the State of War, overthrow the government, and establish a new constitution. Likewise, remember that a formal State militia is likewise the right of the people in order to protect its citizens, including in case of revolution against the federal government. Thus, our Second Amendment:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
As we can see, the right to freedom of speech and assembly is specific to the natural rights preserved from the State of Nature and the preservation of natural Rights, while the right to arms and form a militia is specific to the State of War and its capacity as a credible threat of the people to overthrow an insolvent government. 
It is worth noting that this tradition in political philosophy is continued with the Thirteenth Amendment. Locke argued that Slavery is the right of an individual in the State of War, to the extent the individual is delaying the death they have a right to exercise. In other words, if someone tries to kill you, you have every right to take them captive and force them to follow orders until justice is resolved. This, like every other Natural Right of individuals in the State of War, is given up to the Nation in the Social Contract. Thus, while slavery is abolished based on “birthright” in the Thirteenth amendment, it is preserved for the justice system:

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
When we apply the philosophies of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson to the individuals in Charlottesville, VA there is a clear problem in defining who they believe themselves to be as a group. 
If they are a religion, they have the right to peacefully assemble and their views have no role in government. This is not who they are. 
If they are a charitable organization, they have clear State and Federal laws they must uphold as an entity separate from its members, with major restrictions against political actions. This is not who they are. 
If they are a Political Party, there are very clear restrictions on what they can and cannot do in the pursuit of campaign financing, signage display, and peaceful assembly. This is not who they are. 
If they are a militia, the individuals have the right amass weaponry, gain supporters, and take action against the government in an attempt to redress their grievances. However, the government has the authority, right, and power on behalf of its citizens to crush this insurgency, end their revolt, and eradicate the militia. 
So let me make something very clear. They have the right to their beliefs and speech, and they have a right to their guns and militia. However,
A militia does not have the right to freedom of speech once they take action against the State or Federal Government of the Citizens of United States of America. 
A militia does not have the right to freedom of assembly once they take action against the State or Federal Government of the Citizens of United States of America. 
A militia does not have the right to freedom of movement once they take action against the State or Federal Government of the Citizens of United States of America. 
In other words, anyone who shows up to a parade with a gun should be arrested immediately. The 2nd Amendment does not apply to parades, it applies to our right to war and revolution. Anyone claiming freedom of speech must do so without a gun, anyone claiming the right to peaceful assembly must do so without a gun. 
What to do?
First, we must petition our representatives to ensure that both of these rights–and their corresponding responsibilities–are upheld. A narrowly-defined but very clear rejection of militia-like petitions for parades and protests should be executed. Keep your swastika and your gun at home, if you have real nationalist, ethnic, or socialist grievances or ideas, the symbols of ancient religions and weapons of revolution are not allowed. 
Second, we need to engage individuals more directly in regards to their beliefs. We all have prejudices – the originate from the interpretation of disgust in the expressions of our parents as children – this will not disappear without very real effort because we all have cognitive biases, limited knowledge, and emotion-filled memories. If the only avenue for self-expression for those who believe their race, religion, gender, class, or rights are under attack is in violence in a municipal intersection, we have failed each other deeply. 
Third, there is a clear problem of identifying a militia in revolt in this country. Because ethno-nationalistic violence is on the rise worldwide, we cannot leave this unaddressed. The line between peaceful assembly and revolution must be clearly drawn, as a militia loses all other civil liberties once it violates the rights of Citizens. 

Gender in Technology

Today a Google employee is front-and-center in the Society of the Spectacle. He broke the rules of his universe, and the simulation has exiled him. Capitalism is predicated on reproduction, no longer of human life, but of the image. This employee crossed too far outside the normative boundaries of his simulacra. His image was not the copy of a copy of copy that society demands of liberal democracy’s Hegemonic Truth.

There are clear fallacies, poor assumptions, biases, prejudices in his words. However, as Hegel shows us, human progress is in the continual resolution of its conflicts. Like so many battles to control the image and simulacrum of absolutist truth-value, this moment is a polarizing loss for every “side” in this conflict of values. The only information gained when powerful corporations refuse a role in shaping society and morality is that Eros – the universal dipole moment toward the Other – has no place in the sanitized political economy of institutionalized knowledge creation.

This problem is far from a single “bad egg” that the rare bigot voices. This is a symptom of a machine that has no humanity, desperately ridding itself of the dirtiness and complexity of reality. If there is one critique shared by modern and contemporary philosophers across national, gender, orientation, political, and class boundaries, it is that we are not producing equality of Self and Other, we are only enforcing narcissism and Spectacle. We will awake one day, free and equal, but only because we are completely alone with our reflection. Karl Marx, Ayn Rand, Michele Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, Byung-Chul Han, Camilles Paglia, and the collective Tiqqun have been warning us for some time how dangerous it is to universally strip humans down to hours, dollars, and contracts in one sphere, likes, clicks, and views in the other.

Naturally, Google had no choice. Some infections require amputation. The real crisis of this moment is that the symptom is being treated without an authentic experience by anyone watching, of the sickness in the system. Unfortunately, when the circus of Spectacle is done torturing the employee and Google, nothing meaningful will have changed.

The true universals of humanity are sanitized away from capitalist production in favor of the free and equal codification of consumable difference. If it is too mysterious to mass produce, what merit could it have? Today, one of the five major companies automating this codification of empty but equal significance showed us that humanity will be finish its journey to the artificial on the Day of the Singularity. When we move from a society of proud workers creating and using tools to a society of tools creating and using humans, we will see what the complete alienation of humanity from its survival has cost us.

First and foremost, we have lost the mystery of the ghost in the shell. What is universally human – love, sex, hope, fear, anger, disgust, wonder, loneliness, and doubt – these are all becoming an unacceptable deviation from the machines of capitalist democracy.

We mature in different ways, at different skills, with path-dependent challenges, unique knowledge, and a vast spectrum hopes and dreams. Gender, Orientation, Race, Religion, and Class are all constructs that we cobble together along the way, building an Ego out of whatever happens to be lying around in the moment of necessity.

We must shape a richer understanding of diversity to cultivate the creativity of humanity. We have seen clearly that the brain has sufficient plasticity to teach improvements to spatial reasoning well into adult life, regardless of sex, after which all engineering becomes more easily pursued. We know that small groups who gain exposure to diversity come away with a more holistic concern for humanity. We also know that our words define us and limit us, crystallizing successful personality traits into biased dispositions.

When we proactively engage in authentic dialogue, anchored biases can gain complexity. When we silence, suppress, and exile thoughts and emotions that do not fit the official image of the branded herd, no one benefits. It is reactive and meaningless to the bigger picture, but too late to do anything better.

Corporations today have unprecedented power in shaping the richness of human experience, but the responsibility of a resilient society, global peace, and environmental sustainability is demanded by very few. The dollar and the image have created us in its image, to ensure the liquidity and deregulation of the simulation. Diversity programs and active encouragement of women and minorities to take leadership roles in technology is an important first step, but it is not enough. If we bring more “female resources” into the technology workplace while enforcing they leave their motherhood, daughterhood, sisterhood, friendship, love, culture, and citizenship at home, we will make the world a far worse place.

The compartmentalization once expected of Straight White Men in the political economy of Calvin’s Protestant Work Ethic, if extended to a fully employed, generic, neutered adulthood of the capitalist system… that is a sociopathic humanity hellbent on its own emptiness.

If we do not take the time to participate in authentic dialogue, about power, responsibility, and our future, we will find that the history of human progress was the totalitarian loss of all humanity.

Defining Valuation-Signification

Valuation-Signification is a central concept throughout my first four books, one that combines every art, science, theory, and practice to which I have gained exposure. Its importance comes from a simple human tendency – to capture information in a form that will survive the conscious individuals who produced it so that future generations may reproduce it. To that extent, the problem of all philosophy and science is the struggle to understand valuation-signification.

The uniquely human plight lies precisely in the struggle between two genetic codes, one biological and one social. We see this immediately in our oldest available documents, the Dead Sea scrolls and The Epic of Gilgamesh. Each thrust into written history a problem of complex societies, the power of the state, the control by divine intermediaries of our sexual freedom and preferences as well as that of our plants and animals.

Research in Chaos Theory and Complex Adaptive Systems has shown that fractal scaling cascades – from the human heart to stock trading – are everywhere. Armed with the idea that patterns at order of magnitude greater scale are produced by the self-similarity and amplification of patterns far smaller levels, the common theme of all human thought becomes clear – how do we reconcile the behavior of individuals with the behavior of society? Moreover, how can we make our world better?

First, let’s define these concepts separately, valuation and signification. Valuation is the way we recognize a signal or stimulus and determine the relative importance it may have to our needs and goals. Signification is the orientation process we utilize to determine the best action to be taken on the basis of our valuation. Note that we make millions of decisions per day, but most of them are unexamined, quasi-rational decisions. The fastest decisions are made for us, non-consciously, by the brain’s “filter” framework – an immense number of potential signals are dismissed as noise in a highly automatic process if we are not reflexively observing our observation. The challenge in defining a balanced view of behavioral economics lies in the spectrum between non-conscious economic decisions and the highly complex significations in which we incorporate multiple individual, ideological, and imaginary observers directly and even as observer-chains.

Valuation refers to the initial recognition of a signifier-pattern. It begins with the pre-conscious weighting of a signal – an object moving unexpectedly, a colorful poster, a subtle facial expression from a love interest – and continues with relatively simple valuations of agency, intention, causality, and opportunity. This is precisely why we might say that individual economic behavior may be anti-rational at times – for instance, we purchase a steak without looking at the price because we too busy on reacting to a comment on social media or flirting with another supermarket shopper we find attractive.

Thus, the central assumption of classical economics – that economic decisions are exclusively valuation-based and our valuation is rational, self-interested, and motivated by the fulfillment of mostly unchanging or “static” preferences is incommensurable with all practical evidence. Instead, statistical studies on valuation – from pattern recognition to consumer willingness to pay – reveal numerous cognitive biases, socially normative quasi-logic, and emotion-charged social role fulfillment. In academic terms, valuation is “fast-thinking” most of the time and an untrained, uneducated, non-conditioned individual unaware of observation would act almost exclusively pre-consciously. The moment we recognize we are being judged or gain the capacity to compare several contradictory explanations, we are able to engage in slow-thinking. The most important element to remember, however, is that there are millions of decisions each adult makes per day, however small. The brain has limited available energy for this, and fast-thinking is its way of conserving that energy.

Valuation is social, political, and economic. A signifier – an object that gains our subjective attention and has a universalizing symbol (e.g. Dog, Tree, Hot) – is simultaneously valuable socioeconomically and sociopolitically. Under fast thinking, these three elements of valuation are simplistic and binary. The dog is socially dangerous or not, the dog is politically under control or not, the dog is owned or not. In the absence of threat (the dog is running toward me growling and barking) or triangulating objectification (that nice dog belongs to my friend Jill), fast-thinking is largely based on the binaries of ignore/react and repetition/difference. We prefer to ignore most signifiers, because decisions are expensive in aggregate. The most difficult fast-thinking to predict is fast-difference. Why did I freeze when I usually run? Why did I fight when I usually walk away? Such is the beginning much reflection.

In short, valuation is our ability to recognize an object and its primarily prejudicial worth to us as an individual. We repeat the act of buying eggs without looking at price at all so long as we feel secure in our purchase and walk down familiar hallways consumed by our smart phone to the extent we feel safe to ignore signals from our environment. Yet again, this can be anti-rational precisely because the failure to search for signals means we can no longer rationally determine that the signals are noise.

Signification is the sense-making component of socioeconomic judgment. Socioeconomic is meant philosophically here as any “relations with exchange” in the most abstract sense – a lion loose in a shopping mall is a socioeconomic problem to the extent it hopes to exchange its energy for a shopper’s flesh. The attainment of a mate and intercourse is an exchange of advertised socioeconomic value in displacement of genetic code as well the exchange and integration of the code itself. Thus, signification implies that we not only recognize the relative importance of a signal, but also recognize the need to decide a course of action from available options.

We can again separate this into fast-thinking and slow-thinking. While it may be inconvenient for the theoretical elegance of classical economics, we should not conclude that fast-thinking signification is implicitly dysfunctional or undesirable. Instead, there is a need to interrupt fast-thinking periodically for a reflective analysis under slow-thinking conditions. For example, a routine pattern of ensuring a child is fed, clothed, and arrives at school on-time can functionally rely on fast-thinking to achieve appropriate outcomes; the danger of anti-rational patterns of behavior lies in whether or not we stop to engage in slow-thinking re-valuation and take rational actions to correct pattern – Am I feeding them the right breakfast? Have they grown and I need to buy larger clothes? Is this school system serving my child’s needs? If not, have I advocated sufficiently for their needs, should I escalate, or will I need to consider relocating to another school district? Clearly, there is a balance required between fast-thinking repetition of decisions and slow-thinking analysis of pursuing a different repetition pattern.

During fast-thinking signification, we are likely to repeat the decisions of our past or the perceived normative actions others we have observed based on role and context. For instance, when our child asks about “how babies are made” we potentially have numerous mental schemas and roles that have unique normative decision patterns associated. In terms of mental schemas, there is a choice between information that we could provide and the information that is optimal to exchange. Too advanced scientific information or graphic historical narratives will not help our child, and we have normative beliefs about what is age appropriate and our role as Mother or Father in providing the correct information.

Under slow-thinking, signification can re-determine which mental schema and normative role to engage, forcing a critical re-valuation that may not only shift motivation toward a new chaos attractor, but could instigate a reactive, anti-rational decision. To continue the “sex talk” example, recalling the answer given and the possibility that the child has aged and not asked again, we may determine the necessity of engaging them to ensure updated and more appropriate information about health, personal well-being, and respect for others is communicated.

Putting them together, valuation-signification may each be fast or slow – in fast-fast, our valuation may dismiss noise and react only with a continued search for new signals, or quickly determine a threat and a fight-or-flight response with little rational (or outright anti-rational) consideration. In fast-slow, we may instantly prioritize a signifier as critically important, but think very hard about the best individual and socially normative course of action; even queuing ourselves for re-valuation at a later time. In slow-fast valuation-signification, our calculation of relative importance may take purposeful consideration after several missed or repressed signals, while our ultimate determination of significance and course action may be instantaneous and hyper-reactive, like an explosive emotional response to a phrase our partner has said many times but seemed unimportant each time considered individually. Finally, most optimism about human liberal progress is based on the potential for slow-slow valuation-signification and the assumption that enough education and equal access to information would result in common rational decisions about economics, politics, and the improvement of society.

Despite the number of variables at play when we map out the valuation-signification system as a linear single-player decision, the difficulty in reproducing this decision process in artificial intelligence or attempting to use predictive modeling for the competitive decisions of corporations lies in an even more important pattern of complex adaptive systems that we have only recently begun to research – what I frame as Continuous Experimentation. We do not have a tree-like hierarchical library of schemas, norms, and roles to peruse when we make decisions; instead there seems to be constant stirring of memories and impressions that may be contradictory, incorrect, or unimportant. This variation is a form of bounded chaos, ensuring that we try new actions or apply new interpretations often enough – despite short-run potential mistakes – to not miss a potential adaptation and suffer long-run consequences.

Due the bounded chaos of continuous experimentation, valuation-signification is not so simple as a two-by-two matrix – slow-thinking may surface many fast-thinking conclusions that we reject or displace decisions completely. We may likewise chase a long chain of observers in our analysis of forecasted consequences as a mix of fast-thinking and slow-thinking. For instance, changing jobs may impact the ability to finance college education, and a path mapping personal enjoyment of work is pitted against the paths of college education and lifetime well-being for the child based on the relatively higher or lower availability of parental savings. Long chains of predicated valuation-significations may then emerge, with multiple re-valuation, before a commitment of action is finally pursued: Signifier/fast-slow/slow-fast/fast-fast/slow-slow/Decision. Additional complexity likewise emerges from the problem of distraction – even when appropriately rational slow-slow valuation-signification is occurring, a signifier may interrupt with fast-fast redirection of attention – whether the original slow-slow decision process is resumed before a decision is made is unlikely to be perfectly likely.

In conclusion, we can only rationally decide to the extent we realize there is a choice. Not only should we search for examples of rebels, discontents, insanity, and failure that we may learn from, we must be willing to risk mistakes of our own – even thoroughly thought-through risks – or we are imprisoned by our own ignorance.

For those reading Continuous Experimentation, keep in mind that I intentionally captured youthful skeleton of my lifework with no formal research (though plenty of education and learning). The sources cited below represent the formal research I have recently begun.

Research Resources

Hoff, K., & Stiglitz, J. (2016, 6). Striving for balance in economics: Towards a theory of the social determination of behavior. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 126, 25-57.

Bosworth, S., Singer, T., & Snower, D. (2016, 6). Cooperation, motivation and social balance. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 126, 72-94.

Chater, N., & Loewenstein, G. (2016, 6). The under-appreciated drive for sense-making. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 126, 137-154.

Hoff, K., & Stiglitz, J. (2016, 6). Striving for balance in economics: Towards a theory of the social determination of behavior. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 126, 25-57.

Levy, D. (1994). Chaos Theory and Strategy: Theory, Application, and Managerial Implications. Strategic Management Journal, 15, 167-178.



Machinic Heterogenesis

This self-reproducing node in the machine is what separates and differentiates
it from structure and gives it value. Structure
implies feedback loops, it puts into play a concept of totalisation
that it itself masters. It is occupied by inputs and outputs whose
purpose is to make the structure function according to a principle
of eternal return. It is haunted by a desire for eternity. The
machine, on the contrary, is shaped by a desire for abolition. Its
emergence is doubled with breakdown, catastrophe – the
menace of death. It possesses a supplement: a dimension of
alterity which it develops in different forms. This alterity differentiates
it from structure, which is based on a principle of
homeomorphism. The difference s upplied by machinic
autopoiesis is based on disequilibrium, the prospection of virtual
Universes far from equilibrium. And this doesn’t simply
involve a rupture of formal equilibrium, but a radical ontological
reconversion. The machine always depends on exterior elements
in order to be able to exist as such. It implies a complementarity,
not j ust with the man who fabricates it, makes it
function or destroys it, but it is itself in a relation of alterity with
other virtual or actual machines – a “non-human” enunciation,
a proto-subjective diagram.

Felix Guattari, Chaosmosis

Velocity, Acceleration, and “The Jolt”

Lean-Agile owes a great deal to quantum physics, behavioral economics, and the Toyota Production System. It should not be surprising when our language about teams, programs, and value streams find themselves caught between the science of lean-agile and the metaphors of organic systems.

The metaphor side is crucial, because spoken language is processed by the emotional “side” of brain, while critical thinking and logic is processed by the cognitive “side” of the brain. Especially in a context of uncertainty and optimism toward innovation, the ability to inspire critical thinking through appeals to emotion and narrative becomes essential.

Lean-Agile Art & Science

The metaphors are easy to spot: release trains, delivery pipelines, product portfolios, architectural runways, branches, and streams. These are highly useful for an emotional connection of highly complex cognitive issues, because it is easier to imagine a tree, an airport, or a morning commute than it is to imagine vectors, superposition, and wave functions. The poetry of lean-agile is crucial to learning.

Simply: The art of transformation is the science of The Jolt.

The scientific language of lean-agile is also easy to find, because the burden of proof in any transformation effort is placed fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the system builder who wants to move from periodic marginal utility to long-run economic optimization.

The science begins rather simply. We move from Newtonian laws (hours, dollars, dates, and ROI) to Einstein and Quantum Physics (relative size, value creation, continuous delivery, and probability). Along the way we begin discussing velocity, process control, production systems, and acceleration.

There is a small problem, however. While the science of lean-agile relies on cognition and learning, one scientific construct lies in the realm of emotion and personality:

The Jolt.

The physics are not hard to summarize, but they tend to work for us only in hindsight, in a retrospective moment of privilege. Treated like a particle, a system with position and without momentum is a point. With momentum (mass that is in motion), it becomes a vector. We call the change in position over time velocity. When we want to guide the velocity to an improved velocity, we must act upon it from the outside to cause acceleration. Velocity is the derivative of position (a line). Acceleration is the derivative of velocity (a curve). The Jolt is the derivative of Acceleration, when an external force accelerates acceleration. Lean-Agile transformation is the art of causing The Jolt.

Transformation is the art of causing The Jolt.

While the science of Lean-Agile deals with velocity and acceleration, average completion and standard deviations, plotted on charts and easily analyzed using the Nelson Rules, probability theory, and behavioral economics, the art of transformation lies in cultivating a simultaneous Jolt for the enterprise as an engineered complex adaptive system of systems.

Like any of the great story-tellers of history, our Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, Program Consultants, and Solution Train Engineers play an essential role in crafting the narrative that inspires changes in acceleration. Such narratives must restore the humanity of our workers, because the postmodern era has decentralized the alienation of labor – today more than ever, we alienate ourselves from our essence and its labor in ways no system ever could.

So the Art of The Jolt can take many strange forms, counter-intuitive to the development of a culture of innovation prior to its existence precisely because the naïve organization sees optimism, hope, and effort as simultaneously extrinsically and intrinsically rewarding. As philosopher Alain de Botton emphasizes, such optimism is the source of all rage in society. It should be no wonder that lean-agile efforts predicated upon optimism often die on the vine due to the rage of its sponsors.

Crisis, tragedy, alienation, loss, and pain are common among all of us. Confusion, separation, fear, and anxiety are integral to the human experience. Is it any wonder that the tendency of firms toward homogeneity (Oliver 1997) is simultaneously the alienation of all heterogeneous sentiment? Thus, to advance as a manager requires suppression of such feelings except as political economy, but to advance the transformation as a system of adaptive systems builder requires existential psychoanalysis, enough tragic story-telling, vulnerability, and authentic emotion to finally Jolt the rigidity of the system toward a new valence and equilibrium narrative (Hoff & Stiglitz).

How does The Jolt happen?

We visualize work based on totems, cards, and digital boxes meant to represent relative size. The weight of ideas we have not tested must be felt or we never develop the discipline to conclude. Information capital requires we shift the view of information inventory – there is immense cost to holding onto knowledge without market validation, even though traditional cost accounting cannot see or audit it. Again, metaphor prevails, because sticky notes are a totem for pain previously suppressed out of optimism – we may use imagery like rusting mechanical assembly parts and pieces in a warehouse due to overproduction and bullwhip effect. The critical Jolt is artistic and emotional, and it force the system to recognize how much cost and pain is being hidden on hard drives and cloud servers.

We can then trace lines of completion and progress, burn down charts and cumulative flow diagrams, to show that no matter how much pain we find in the world, our sanity is predicated on the rate at which we heal, not the rage with which we retaliate. We put on display our average rate of forgiveness, altruism, and cooperation, because the best way to alleviate individual selfishness is to treat family-system anxiety.

Next we fight for continuous funding, because learning is impossible in a state of anxiety. Well-formed teams create a support network for experimentation, the freedom to fail together, express our fears, take the time to understand and forgive the shortcomings of compatriots, and mourn our losses. The team must be large enough to make it clear that we are not alone in our pain and anxiety, but small enough that our relative exposure to new experiences can be felt personally despite the support of the group. So Retrospectives start as outward-blaming complaint sessions and do so with good reason – the supply-side person in pain has onto their rage at disappointed optimism and betrayal of promises with no demand-side action to listen systematically.

Retrospectives then mature over time, and the Scrum Master (or corollary role) must shift between therapist to the individual and therapist to the team. First is the need to convince each person’s pain and anxiety should not be alienating, but that it is human to feel lost and hopeless. Next is the process breaking apart intrinsic worth from external valuation – without anyone being responsible, the system and the individual arrive presenting symptoms of co-dependency. Then, the group is taught in isolation from their system how to forgive, relate, and reach out to others who are equally scared, anxious, and in need of help.

Only then can healthier mental schemas be taught – external forces that appear outside of our control can and should be mitigated and accounted for, every rule has exceptions and those processes are worked through to ensure adaptive behavior, functional “family”-system interaction, and long-run inter-personal resilience.

Finally, the team can harness the energy of the market, understanding that innovation is a process of solving for pains in better ways than before (Svare 2014). The discipline of stoicism and scientific method finally keeps optimism focused on learning to ask more intelligent questions rather than feeding the enterprise’s prototypical, pervasive, and ongoing gambling addiction, betting big on technical hype rather than sustainable growth.

Essential to all of this is the ability to tell personal stories of disappointed hope, fortune wiped away by mere chance, fear of loss, anxiety toward being good, strong, and brilliant enough not only for ourselves but for our network, families, and legacy. If we run out of stories of our own, of course, fiction has always been the best place to find the stories of tragedy we need in our times of greatest optimism and reciprocal anxiety – Oedipus, Socrates, Othello, Madame Bovary, and The Jungle, along with a slew of tragic film stories should give us more than enough stories when our failed products, projects, relationships, and companies leave our audience wanting more.


The art of transformation lies in The Jolt, one that must reverberate through every level of the system in the form of tragedy and emotional re-connection. It is only in such somber moments we can let down our walls enough to reflect, exposed to our own alienation and disappointment, about what we are part of, how little we have changed, and how slowly our hopes are achieved. Only then can the system as a whole take the decisive shift into a new stage of transformation economics.

Do not wait to tell your story – someone, somewhere, less strong, less courageous, or less willing to risk humiliation is out there, and they desperately need you to let them know that none of us are alone.

Sources Cited

Hoff, K., & Stiglitz, J. (2016, 6). Striving for balance in economics: Towards a theory of the social determination of behavior. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 126, 25-57.

Johnson, B., & Hernandez, A. (2016). Exploring Engineered Complex Adaptive Systems of Systems. Procedia Computer Science, 95, 58-65.

Oliver, C. (1997). Sustainable competitive advantage: combining institutional and resource-based views. Strategic Management Journal, 18(9), 697-713.

Svare, H. (2016, 6). User-Producer Dialogue, Workplace Innovation, and Knowledge in a Regional Innovation System. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 7(2), 565-586.

What you need: Complexity Mindset

Organizations that are too rigid cannot adapt to changing economic conditions, demand, prices, interests, shocks, and crises. Problematically, an enterprise can grow quite large while preserving its rigidity in the medium-run, delaying the need to adapt until the industry as a whole has a crisis (airlines, automobiles, etc).

Thus, my first book focused heavily on the need to build and cultivate tension within an organization to ensure that continuous experimentation preserves adaptive complexity.

One example that humanity has struggled to grasp, is the adaptive complexity of a system that relies on individuals who need to be a mix of selfishness and altruism. Standard economics is largely built on the axiom of rational self-interest, that individuals have static preferences and will optimize marginal returns on margin investment. For instance, when I have $10 to spend, I will maximize the utility or value of my spending, based on information, rational self-interest, and prices.

Behavioral Economics, however, has shown us that the choices we make are often quasi-rational at best. Any parent who has gone grocery shopping with a young child knows that gut-feel, intuition, snap decisions, and a desire to get the complex decisions of a stressful shopping trip over with, leads to less-than-perfect spending decisions. Anecdotes aside, research has proven a growing list of fallacies and biases that are consistent across gender, race, culture, and intelligence–from anchoring our conclusions based on whatever information we receive first, to an optimism bias that our success is more likely than the average success rate.

As Hoff and Stiglitz review, there is strong evidence for treating individual actors within a system as encultured actors, partly depending on social context and expectations to determine the best decision.

We can each fit the standard model of classic economics during “slow-thinking”. Under observation, we act rationally self-interested as long as we have perfect information and sufficient time for deliberation. The rest of the time, we are swept up in our action-packed schedules, engaged in thousands of quasi-rational decisions. We copy what has been successful for others, act agreeable when the impact of a decision is unclear, and rely on our past experiences to maintain the habits that have worked so far. This “fast-thinking” is not static, however. The research is very clear that we can be manipulated in very subtle ways, toward selfishness, mistrust, polarity, and dishonesty. Likewise, with enough changes to social context, education, and time, the weak can be strong, the forgotten can be outspoken, the rigid can grow again.

So, who would you like to be?

While I will present the science behind complexity thinking in lean-agile organization development in future posts, the real question that I am left with is, “Who would I like to be; who should I hope to become?” Naturally, there is no perfect answer to this. Personal identity is a question of strategy, in its own way; you can only choose so many vocations, specialties, social contexts, and roles. To be enormously successful in one arena is a trade-off against other opportunities.

One thing, however, is entirely clear. To the extent that our quasi-rational behavior allows us to rely on several “identities” based on mental schema, role models, behavioral narrative, and social norms, isolation within any one institution and ideology is a dangerous prison. We are only free to determine our own path to the extent we know those paths exist. We can only adopt the best mental schema for an unknown decision by having as many modes of thinking as possible at our disposal. We can only carve out the best self-identity as the exposure to new options, cultures, and role models permit.

Frankly, if we are all very honest, we find it easiest – because is simple, familiar, and less scary – to remain stuck in the simplistic modes of thinking we developed as children. Good-baby/Bad-baby, Good-mommy/Bad-mommy, Good-worker/Bad-worker… and yet, when we view the world as a complex adaptive system, it is true of humanity that the health of the forest is so much more complex than can be observed tree by tree. Sometimes we need mother-soldiers, brother-florists, teacher-friends and so on. So my call to action is not to choose a single destiny and blindly pursue it; my imperative to you is see all the paths, invent a hundred identities, meet every kind of person, think through the lens of your worst enemies. Only by expanding your vocabulary, experience, and exposure to the full complexity of the world can you hope to say, in the end, “I chose who I have become.”


Hoff K, Stiglitz J. “Striving for balance in economics: Towards a theory of the social determination of behavior” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2016, vol: 126 pp: 25-57


Transformation: Expected Retaliation

Another force that shapes the behavior of potential ideological entrants is the severity and nature of the retaliation the Clerics (consultants, teachers, evangelists, psychologists, priests) expect from entrenched incumbents. Likewise, for an ideological system that is an indirect substitute, the expected retaliation of incumbent systems may play a role in shaping the polarizing territorialization even if re-valuation is never sought – the avoidance of retaliation may be internalized or sublimated, miraculated back upon its doctrine.

If a potential entrant believes that victorious re-valuation is unlikely, or that losses will be protracted or catastrophic, the emergent profitability of will-to-power for the new entrant may fall below the cost to acquire genetic capital. Although a history of vigorous retaliation, combined with a level of capricious volatility, is the best way for an entrenched ideology to ensure the signification of re-valuation cost is high, the formal leadership of their organizations may also use direct signaling to the public at large as a passive aggressive threat to prospective new entrants.


Transformation: Barriers to Entry

To limit the introduction of new entrant Invasive Ideologies, the existing rivals, with their entrenched ideological production systems, must ensure that entering the competitive landscape is unattractive to outside groups. This may be done through explicit leadership by the largest ideological system, through direct collusion of existing systems, or implicitly through a similar response to a shared re-valuation threat. We should note that some ideological re-valuation efforts, feeling an imperative due to their Unlimited Sociopolitical Product, will ignore demand-side and supply-side barriers to entry; pursuing “missionary” work, cold sales, and consultative evangelism signals anyway. Any ideological system that treats evangelism with an imperative-based valuation, and treats rejection and barriers to belief as supporting signification, will certainly be an invasive mold, difficult to eradicate. In other words, if a production system views the rejection of its product as proof that its product is righteous, do not expect a simple resolution to your conflict with it.

                Supply-Side Economies of Scale – an ideological system enjoys superior supply-side scale economies when the entrenched rivals can spread the cost of belief-information production across several believers. The benefits of scale economies to supply-side ideological production are multiple: network pressure to participate ties combined will-to-power with social status in a virtual community, prestige economies arise to the benefit of reinforcing the ideological system, the variable impact of losing a single believer is very low, the ability to create larger spectacles, while the history of believers and anecdotes materializes at a superior pace.

Supply-side economies of scale deter new ideological system new entrants to the extent the new entrant must reach a large tipping point very quickly in numbers of believers, attempting to dislodge an existing system or disrupt the entire market of ideas. Whether perceived or actual, supply side economies of scale tend to produce two kinds of new entrants: one that employs disruptive new means of recording production to lower the price of belief, another that treats its cost disadvantage as proof of righteousness. When a belief system is willing to accept its cost disadvantages, its evangelism typically focuses on the ease of adoption in comparison to entrenched systems, which may give rise to a large but fragmented pool of Clerics who sell the luxury version of the ideological system to existing believers. When cost disadvantage is processed by valuation-signification as a proof of righteousness, this sets its believer network up for a recursive reflexivity in favor of extremism, conspiracy theories, and fundamentalism

Demand-Side Benefits of Scale – In the spread and adoption of a new ideological systems, demand-side benefits of scale are also referred to as “network effects” – for example, the first-signifier disadvantage of the original telephone networks was not exclusive to the cost of installation – the ability to have someone to talk to was important. We have seen this repeat with iterations of postmodern social media networks. In an ideological system in which participation and information is the only cost of belief, significant scale economies exist for established rivals.

Like social media network effects, we would expect to see a gradual homogenization of evaluable belief-products from tightly focused verticals as an ideological industry matures. This has the effect of limiting the willingness of believers to experiment with new systems if their Sociopolitical Product is incompatible with a more established system. This not only erodes the bargaining power of the new entrant system’s Clerics, it may cause an unintended evolution of signification for both systems – for example, the interaction of believers in a both Protestant Christianity and Psychodynamic Clinical psychology not only reduce the power of the Psychologist, because the spiritual minister has a moral high ground imperative, but repeated exchanges between the two create a populace rendition of both cosmology and psychology that has merged but “bastardized” both systems.

One might also note that this is the overarching claim that Marx makes toward capitalism as an ideological system – the network effects of continued specialization and decoding of economic flow benefits the consumers of the system at the expense of alienating the social element of the laborer; as an ideological system, this capacity to appropriate re-sell any other ideology makes it unlikely that any “corrective” ideological system can produce a limit on the maximization of surplus value of labor. Despite all the efforts of Cold War era clerics on both sides, many “believers” at this point may see little difference between capitalist and materialist thinking.

                Believer Switching Costs – When the cost of switching from one ideological system to another is high, a new entrant will find it extremely difficult to evangelize believers. Believer Switching Costs may be real or perceived – the need to change information networks, loss or “reset” of social status, and an inability to switch back after leaving the system create high switching costs. Moreover, sunk cost fallacy can play a significant role in Believer Switching Costs, especially when process addictions and coping mechanisms adapted to the believer’s current system are incompatible with the behavioral expectations of the new system.

Here we can account for the difference in religious ideological systems versus political, financial, or labor ideological systems. The lower the switching costs of the believer, the more likely we will find complimentary Sociopolitical Product imperatives. For example, the ability to gain prestige in both plumbing and water systems construction as well as electrical systems construction in both residential and commercial applications – the switching costs are limited to additional education, tools, and technology, while the value network, respect of peers, and ability to rise as a Cleric may actually be improved through the synergy of multiple belief systems. The higher the switching costs of the believer, the less likely we will see that the believer’s valuation-signification processes will include choice of belief within their design set – in other words, the recursive impact of signifying faith as an external locus of valuation control actually limits their capacity to even consider another religion. In juxtaposition with the plumber-electrician general contractor, we could imagine a Jesuit Priest leaving Catholicism to pursue Islamic extremism then attempt to return to Christianity sounds ridiculous – we would consider planning aforethought the choice to switch incompatible with “true faith” in either system. This gives us the most important element of Believer Switching Cost – any system that takes network-switching as a sign of Bad Conscience will operationalize combined will-to-power to reject Believers who have switched, possibly including their family in the punishment.

                Incumbency Advantages Independent of Scale – Some advantages may benefit incumbents in ways not available to new entrants, regardless of the scale of ideological valuation-signification production. These advantages may stem from geographically superior access to believers and new information, economic rents from possession of a sacred site or totem, easily recognizable believer branding, or learning curve advantages in evangelism can all provide benefits to entrenched rivals that new entrants will be required to attain.

Unequal Access to Distribution – when potential believers are sufficiently isolated and fragmented, unequal access to distribution will limit the spread of an Invasive Ideology and simplify the retaliatory maneuvers of an established system. Consider, for example, the continued strength and apparent unity of will-to-power exhibited by the Vatican in the control of Christian ideology, first relying on the Roman Empire’s political system then monarchies of feudalism that followed – because the bargaining power of believers was low and the bargaining power of Clerics was controlled by the Vatican, unequal access to distribution of ideas prevented a major schism (relying on rhizomatic spread instead) until it became politically advantageous for socioeconomic systems development (consider Henry VIII).

The Threat of New Ideologies

It is an all-too-human tendency to mitigate risks only against extreme threats, and position bureaucracy remains in denial altogether, hoping “they” who are above will protect the system against major threats; in reality, the threat of a new ideology, and its strength in focusing the cost structure of an ideological system, is typically imaginary – far smaller threats of operationalization creep into the fissures of the Body Without Organs, exploiting and exacerbating the gap it gradually, accretively fills and expands, like a fungal invasion of an Oak tree.  When the Threat of New Ideologies is low, pressure to unite doctrine is low, so the component production factors are prone to sibling rivalry and ongoing schisms.

High threat of new entrants on an Invasive Ideology recording surface gradually erodes the cost of belief demanded by each existing rival. Consider the erosion of belief expectations, in the form of socioeconomic and behavioral changes, exhibited progressively by the people of Judea after the repeated defilement and destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, and the progressive schisms of the Roman Catholic Church post-appropriation by the Empire, and the protestant sects that followed. The more an ideological industry complex perceives a new Invasive Ideology gaining a foothold, the more its internal rivals compete based either upon lowering the lifetime cost of belief (mainstream, relativism) with a minority of existing rivals pursuing pure differentiation (fundamentalism) or even narrow focus on luxury ideological offerings (monasteries, ivory towers).

This pressure to reduce barriers to belief can only be re-territorialized against through collusion, maintaining the price of belief, or through increased investment in doctrinal soundness. Collusion to maintain the price of belief goes beyond the emergent “lowest common denominator” of faith in order to ensure believers are beholden to the will of the Clerics, as may be seen in the ideological systems of paternalistic penal law, despotic state taxation, and the investment firms of financial capitalism. If the role of Clerics tends to subjugate to the role of the unifying body-system, collusion is viewed externally as a standardization of processes – one that actors outside the struggle for Information Dominance are unbothered in their ignorance – consider specialized guilds on the frontier middle-class materialism: residential and commercial plumbing or electrical guilds, veterinary medicine and psychology or marriage counseling. Sacred texts with no contemporary presiding visionary produces a slow-moving bureaucracy of best practices. Guild-based practices of arborescent information and prestige networks are the typical method of raising barriers to entry for new entrants with a homogenous Sociopolitical Product.

In contradistinction, many belief systems have unavoidably (or even intentionally) low barriers to entry, and may spread through indoctrination (focusing on the exploitation of state’s education institutionalization complex) or by economic rents guaranteed openly by the state (patent-law or the length of a standardized measure of inches, centimeters) or can only be actively documented by a minority of production process recording producers, who win the long-run game simply through distributed, decentralized, “caring when no one else cares” (dictionaries, lexicons, encyclopedias, journals, and wikis).

We must remain cognizant that it is not the “intrinsic value” of an ideology nor the cumulative will-to-power its macro-organic proponents potentiate; nor is it the actual invasive actions that matter in indirectly shaping, through the recursive reflexivity of valuation-signification, the decisions of entrenched ideological rivalry. Likewise, it is not the objectivity of valuation of the external threat of a new ideological rivalry, it is the signification of its implications for current tensions with entrenched rivals that shapes adversarial decisions in the marketplaces of truth-ideas. Due to this, the threat of a new ideological entrant need not exist at all, nor even be based upon a real ideological system as believed-in, by an actual population of coordinated believers; an outside system that makes no attempt to invade, or exists exclusively in the imagination of an entrenched ideology’s believers, is more than sufficient to shape the nature of ideological warfare amongst existing rivals.

We can likewise see that a macro-organic behavioral jump discontinuity can occur if the audience of believers, perceiving an immense threat, is exploited for the purposes of a Substitute that is not perceived as a threat – even when the “threat” of a coordinated sociopolitical threat is a group delusion. The perception of threat, even in the absence of a coordinated or actual threat, can have powerful implications in the lives of its believers and previously uninvolved bystanders unrelated to the issues at hand (as seen in the countless religion-based or ethnic genocides that occur as a generalization of an ideological threat).

This capitalist system of information production thereby creates truth-ideas in ever-scaling spatiotemporal fractals until direct rivalry perceives an external threat. The surplus value of believer-labor is thereby destroyed by the unifying body-system that can maintain information dominance in order to maintain the tension of adversarial knowledge production – through “Keynesian” investment of surplus ideological value in public works (exploiting patrons into building chapels or funding painters in exchange for salvation), through externalization into a body-system military-industrial complex (the European Crusades, the invasion of third-world countries in the Cold War), or through the investment in applied science, technology, or induced general intellect, typically displacing will-to-power into the Invasive Ideology of a subsequent generation. In each case, we can see that the perception of a sociopolitical threat from a new ideological system, when exploited by the socioeconomic actors with the existing rivalry, may result in sudden physical violence with catastrophic results – war, poverty, genocide, book-burning, and mass indoctrination among them.

This has important pragmatic implications for transformation of an enterprise, as a conglomeration of value-add ideological systems – legal, contract, accounting, tax, finance, operations, et cetera. To the extent we can induce demand for new methods of signaling and signification without the appearance of danger, superficially, to any entrenched ideological system, the more freely we can move among the indigenous knowledge workers unnoticed.

Direct Ideological Rivalry

Direct Rivalry among established ideological production systems is the most common perspective taken, especially when the sociopolitical stakes are high, as directly and openly competing belief paradigms invest heavily in juxtaposition; a critical role in continued re-territorialization. In this sense, we can see there is a Diachronic Operability in addition to the Synchronic Operability of the production processes of valuation-signification and its capacity for Polarizing Territorialization. Diachronic Operability weaves a narrative of valuation-signification based on the history of critical truth-ideas, their evolution of meaning, and records a new re-valuation based on the contradistinction of materialist history over-against the current necessity of belief. Synchronic Operability takes a static representation of The Moment as perceived by the valuation-signification of that context for justification against the present re-valuation effort, likewise treated as a static point.

Despite this tendency toward direct juxtaposition, it should be clear that the socioeconomic forces external to the conflict between two or more ideological systems shape the nature of decisions made within the conflict, with a recursive reflexivity over-against forces applied within the direct conflict. Direct Rivalry between ideological adversary-systems that are in open, direct competition for the same “customer” should likewise be the easiest to imagine: for instance, religious institutions that take a similar view of “faith” and “the soul” but a polarizing view of “salvation”, or professional guilds that can raise economic rents distributed to their members through an increase in barriers to entry. To whatever extent ideological industries share constructs across competitors, the role of direct rivalry may increase or decrease based on isolation from the other socioeconomic forces. For instance, differentiated extremist political platforms, narrow in their Sociopolitical Product, that find some temporary and cyclical common ground in their opposition of several other political platforms, giving rise to a bi-partisan dialectic that largely ignores the fragmented parties that refuse to “pick a side”.

We can see that Confusion of Levels plays an enormous role, as an apparent conflict at one level may seem extremist and violent viewed in isolation, but appears to be little more than a sibling rivalry to outsiders at a “higher” level of observation: for example, the continued rivalry, schisms, and fragmentation of American sects of Protestantism after World War II due to the sudden sentiment of Christian moral high-ground, exhibited in the stories told of “saving the world from the Nazis”; contrast this with the sudden unity of these same ideological systems once Islamic fundamentalist extremism made its threat as an externality clear by attacking “Capitalism, Democracy, and Christianity” simultaneously – manifest when two airplanes were crashed in the World Trade Center.

The same problem should be thoroughly evaluated in the creation of ideological strategy – whether “Lean” or “Digital” or “Agile” transformation is the goal. Ideological systems produce information that is exchanged by those who believe their production of information to be true to reality – a careful view of the organization from the perspective of each entrenched ideological system at play, and their sunk cost establishing their territorial boundaries, will make clear how to exploit Maneuver Economics to shift the overarching balance of power in favor of your new ideology.